HC Deb 20 January 1902 vol 101 cc313-5

I beg to ask the President of the Local Government Board, whether his attention has been called to the continued increase of small-pox on the Essex Coast near Purfleet; and will he state what steps the Government propose to take to cause the immediate removal of the small-pox hospital ships now moored there.


May I ask if the right hon. Gentleman is aware that the medical officer of health for the county has reported that the recent outbreak has been attributable to the presence of the vessels and has recommended that they should be withdrawn from the precincts of the Essex Coast.


I am not aware of the fact mentioned by the hon. Gentleman opposite. Of course, there is no dispute as to the fact that these smallpox hospitals must cause some infection. In answer to my hon. and gallant friend, I have to say that I am aware of the occurrence of small-pox on the Essex Coast, and have caused a Medical Inspector to communicate with the Local Authorities in the districts concerned. As regards the second part of the question, the Managers of the Metropolitan Asylum District are doing everything in their power to provide the hospital accommodation necessary for the reception as small-pox cases from the Metropolis; but, looking to the large number of these cases, I do not in the present circumstances propose to interfere with the discretion of the Managers as to the use of the ships to which my hon. and gallant friend refers and which have been moored in the Thames since 1885.

* MR. D. J. MORGAN (Essex, Walthamstow)

Could not the ships be moved down into Sea Reach, where there is practically no population whatever on either side of the river?


I cannot answer that question definitely, but I can tell my hon. friend that every possible trouble has been taken to find another mooring place for the vessels. As my hon. friend knows, it is necessary that there should be communication with the shore, so that the patients may be easily taken to the vessels, and at present we have not been able to suggest any new place. I will, however, take into consideration any suggestion my hon. friend may like to make.

MR. BARTLEY (Islington, N.)

Do the Government contemplate any legislation in view of this epidemic?


No, Sir; no legislation is necessary, that I am aware of, of any kind.